How to Grow Silverbeet Seeds

Grow Guide #2318
Family: Amaranthaceae
Binomial name: Beta vulgaris
Life Cycle: Biennial

This 'How to Grow' guide details everything a home gardener needs to know to plant, grow and care for Silverbeet (Beta vulgaris).

When to Sow Silverbeet Seeds

Silverbeet can be grown year-round in most climates. Avoid planting in extremely hot or cold weather which can affect germination and growth. Use the table below to identify the best time of year to sow silverbeet in your climate.

  JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Cool
Temperate
Sub-Tropical
Tropical
Arid

Preparation

Silverbeet plants are best grown in full sun. Choose a location that will receive at least 6 hours of full sun each day.

Silverbeet plants need a loose, well drained soil enriched with organic matter. Prepare soil by weeding it thoroughly, digging it over to at least a spade’s depth to loosen the soil, and adding aged animal manure or compost. Organic matter can be dug into heavy soil to lighten it so roots can grow freely. Keep the area free of weeds until planting. Learn more about preparing soil for planting here.

Silverbeet plants can be grown in containers. If possible choose a variety that’s recommended for container growing. Use a good quality potting mix and make sure your container is large enough for mature plants; a minimum of 40 litres is recommended for silverbeet. During the growing season, keep in mind that container grown plants may need additional fertiliser to encourage healthy growth.

How to Sow Silverbeet Seeds

Optional: SIlverbeet seeds do not require any treatment before sowing, but soaking seeds overnight in room temperature water prior to sowing may result in improved or more uniform germination.

Silverbeet seeds can be sown directly into the garden OR seedlings can be raised in trays or other containers and transplanted to the garden once established.

Sow Direct

  1. Sow seeds directly in the garden 15mm deep and 20-35cm apart, with rows 50-60cm apart.
  2. Keep soil moist but never wet or dry.
  3. Seeds should germinate in around 5-10 days at a soil temperature of 10-30°C.
  4. Young seedlings will need protection from pests, pets and weather until they are established.

Raise Seedlings

  1. Fill trays, punnets or jiffy pots with a good quality seed-raising mix, or use soil starter pellets.
  2. Sow seeds 15mm deep.
  3. Keep soil moist but never wet or dry.
  4. Seeds should germinate in around 5-10 days at a soil temperature of 10-30°C.
  5. Transplant seedlings to the garden once they have their first true leaves and are large enough to handle (usually 5-10cm tall).
  6. Plant out, spacing plants 20-35cm apart, with rows 50-60cm apart.

How to Grow Silverbeet

Silverbeet plants may need watering during the growing season. Water when the soil is dry about 5cm below the surface (test this by scratching away a little soil with your finger). Water deeply in the early morning or late afternoon. Avoid watering the leaves of plants to avoid fungal diseases. Learn more about watering here.

If soil was well prepared no extra fertiliser should be necessary. In poor soil or to give your plants an extra boost, application of a high-nitrogen fertiliser or one formulated for leafy greens or herbs can be beneficial:

  • Apply slow release fertiliser at the recommended rate when transplanting or when seedlings are 5-10cm tall.
  • Apply liquid fertiliser at the recommended rate and frequency during the growing season.

Tip: To prolong the life of the plant, remove flower stalks as soon as they appear.

How to Harvest Silverbeet

Silverbeet should be ready to harvest in approximately 50-90 days.

Leaves are ready to harvest when they are large enough to eat, and can be harvested as needed. Harvest leaves by cutting off the outer ones at the base, leaving some on the plant for future growth. Eat silverbeet leaves as soon as possible after harvesting. Store leaves short term in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge. For long term storage silverbeet can be blanched then frozen.

Common Problems when Growing Silverbeet

Like all plants, silverbeet is susceptible to some pests, diseases and other problems. Below is a list of the most common problems gardeners encounter when growing silverbeet plants:

  • Bolting is when a plant prematurely flowers and goes to seed. Bolting can be caused by a period of extreme weather. Avoid sowing seed until after the danger of frosts has passed or in very hot weather. Water plants regularly and deeply in hot weather to prevent them suffering heat stress.
  • Slugs and Snails
    Slugs and snails are molluscs that feed on tender leaves and shoots, mostly at night, leaving slimy trails behind them. Control them by removing their hiding places, keeping free range poultry, collecting them by torchlight or by placing traps. Read more about slugs and snails here.
  • bacterial leaf spot
    Bacterial leaf spot is a disease that causes irregularly shaped brown spots on all above-ground parts of a plant. The spots at first appear to be wet but become dry and scab-like over time. Leaves and flowers can fall prematurely. Water plants at soil level (not on the leaves), dispose of fallen leaves and fruit and practice crop rotation.
  • Downy Mildew
    Downy mildew is a fungal disease that causes yellow to grey-brown patches on leaves, especially the undersides. Water plants at soil level (not on the leaves), remove and destroy affected leaves and do not overcrowd plants to ensure adequate air flow. If problems persist, spray with a homemade milk spray or fungicide.
  • Boron deficiency
    Boron deficiency causes yellow leaf tips, hollow discoloured stems or soft brown centres in the roots. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of household boron in 5 litres of water in a watering can and apply when seedlings are 5-10cm tall. Do not use as a general fertiliser as boron is toxic to some plants.

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